For the Pasta
- Chicken Soup Stock (I prefer Knorrs products for this)
- Linguini (Doesn’t need to be anything special as you set most of the taste yourself, linguini is whats most traditionally used for this kind of dish also)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (to use in the water, but can also be used for coating the pasta after its finished cooking)
- Sea Salt (Just your normal shaker, to use when during cooking, but also a little bit after for tasting)
For The Sauce
- Whole Milk (other milks work too)
- Normal and Red Onion (One for infusing, and one for the meal)
- Regular white flour
- Normal Butter
- Ham of choice ( I used an Italian thin Prosciutto Ham for this)
- Chicken Soup Stock (You will have already used this for the pasta!)
- Parmesan cheese (just a magnificent cheese to put on italian pasta dishes!)
- Fresh Basil leaves
1: Preparation before the actual cooking:
WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE BEGINNING ANY OF THIS!
A good rule during cooking is to always prepare the ingredients before you cook the stuff, so cut up all the vegetables and other things thats going into the dish, ready the various things like spices, oils, etc etc, have it all ready on the counter so you don’t have to go finding anything when you for example should be stirring and might risk burning something and destroying the dish.
Chop up a normal onion, doesn’t need to be the whole thing, but might as well right?
Fill a small saucepan with milk on a low to medium heat and stir continuously. throw the onions into the milk, bring this to a boil, then turn of the heat and leave it to infuse for 20-25 minutes while you do the rest of the dish. this will help the base of your sauce in terms of adding a little extra richness in your taste.
Also take the red onio, chop it up, and fry it in a pan with some butter, put this to the side until later in the process.
2: Cook the Pasta
Fill a mid sized saucepan full of water, we play it by ear as always so put enough in that you’ll be able to cook the pasta with all of it being submerged during the boiling process.
– Once you put the saucepan on the stove for boiling, throw in a decent amount of salt, and one or two cubes of chicken soup stock. Both of these work to make your pasta less bland in its totality, i always cook pasta of all sorts with soup stock cubes added.
– When the water is boiling, throw in the linguini to cook, you can decide for your own sake to break the linguini in half when you put it in this comes down to preference for the most part. if you are unsure on cooking pasta, follow the cooking instructions on the packet. Cook until finished, a neat trick i learned as a kid to find out if your linguini/spaghetti is ready. When you think its ready to throw a strand against the wall, if it sticks, your pasta is ready.
– Take the water off the pasta (NB: Save some of the water for doing the sauce, or it will cost you another soup stock cube) coat it with butter or olive oil, and let it rest in the siv while you make the sauce.
3: Make the sauce
A good white sauce base, as I’ve learned and crafted this dish anyway remains largely the same throughout other dishes too, where the spices really is what sets it apart from one dish to another, in this one i strictly used Thyme, Oregano, and Sea Salt, but my favorite white sauce dishes that my mother makes uses spices like nutmeg, which is amazing! But i’ll get into that on a different post.
By the time you begin making the sauce, take the onion milk we infused for preparation, discard the onion, and have the milk sitting ready in a measuring cup or similar.
-Take a large amount of butter and melt it in a mid size sauce pan (might as well use the same one you cooked the pasta in) then throw in an alright amount of normal flour, and begin stirring. This is a part you might think you fucked up, but know that this is how its supposed to be! when you stir the butter and the flour, these weird yellow clumps begin to form in the saucepan, this is called sauce roux, what this does is help your sauce thicken as you stirr in the soup stock and onion milk.
-Keep stirring constantly, and mix between adding the onion-infused milk, and the soups-stock you kept from boiling the pasta, throw in the seasoning of thyme and oregano, the previously fried red onions, the ham of choise torn up or diced, the slightest hint of some pepper, and salt.
Always important to taste your food as you go along, when training to do this “by ear” you’ll know what tastes you like, and how to achieve them, but thats way easier to catch early, rather then minutes before serving! You’ll know the sauce is ready when its thick but clump free.
-Now add the linguini, this can be done in many ways, I’ve simply opted always to throw it into the already boiling sauce, and blending the two that way, I understand there are other ways, but this is simple and sensible enough for a meal such as this in my view.
And boom you are done, what you have done is create a great tasting pasta dish in a creamy and delicious white sauce, that doesn’t require you to be a master or spend the entire day preparing everything from scratch. simple, elegant, and delicious.
Serve in bowls or on plates with finely grated parmesan and fresh basil leaves on top.
Notes: Been a while since i wrote anything on this section. I apologise for that, you know how its been with Covid and all that. Since getting back to Winchester though, I have really been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, trying out new dishes, reading and buying cookbooks, getting inspiration from a lot of places, challenging myself in an area that i’m otherwise quite unfamiliar, and all in all, i’m happy to say i enjoy cooking food and i’m told i do it well all things considered. As i now do this at least 6 days a week of home cooking where i cook as much as i can from the bottom up with no excuses, I’ll try and show more and more dishes as i go along, if you have comments on my approach to the tune of “Hey you might also want to try this kind of approach, use this along with that” and other things of the sort, please do tell me about it. and I look forward to hearing from you! K